6. How can married persons report their salary income?
Married persons can choose "separate taxation" or "joint assessment":
i) Separate taxation
A husband and a wife are treated as separate individuals. Each is required to:
- complete a tax return,
- declare his/her income,
- claim expenses (and deductions), and
- pay any tax due.
ii) Joint assessment (applicable only if advantageous)
If the earnings of one spouse are less than his/her tax allowance, there will be some un - utilized allowance when the husband and wife are assessed separately under separate taxation. If a couple chooses to have a “joint assessment”, income and allowances for both husband and wife will be added together, and the married person's allowance will be deducted from their joint total income. Obviously, this will result in some savings in tax for the couple.
Hence, where it appears that a joint tax bill may be smaller than your two tax bills added together, both you and your spouse should choose the “joint assessment” option in each of your tax returns. If a joint assessment does not result in less tax, the Assessor will automatically issue separate tax bills to each of you instead.
Please note that there is a time limit for the selection/withdrawal of a joint assessment. After initially choosing to have a joint assessment, should you change your mind and withdraw you selection, you will not be allowed to request a joint assessment again in the same year of assessment.
Any married couple may choose “joint assessment” under Hong Kong Salaries Tax regulations, irrespective of their residential status. The point to note for joint assessment is that both spouses should have income assessable to Hong Kong Salaries Tax for the specific year of assessment in question.